Chromium OS as a Springboard?

17 views
Skip to first unread message

Captain Calliope

unread,
Jul 9, 2011, 4:51:10 AM7/9/11
to web...@googlegroups.com

I just realized it might be useful to look at the Chromium OS documentation for some inspiration.

http://www.chromium.org/chromium-os

First off, I think this could provide us with a template for structuring Webian's documentation.

Secondly, it gives us an existing implementation of a 'webos' to design against.

Third, I wonder if it would be useful to fork ChromiumOS, strip out all the Chrome while leaving all the other WebOS infrastructure in place and put Chromeless+Webian on top. I imagine there's alot of useful code that runs in between the chromium and core operating system that might be useful for Webian.

http://www.chromium.org/chromium-os/chromiumos-design-docs/software-architecture

From an architectural level: If we start with the scopes of the Chromeless and Webian Projects and overlay them on top of the architecture for Chromium OS, what does this imply needs to be stripped from Chromium OS? What kind of foundation does this give us to build from, and what gaps would need to be filled?

I'm not necessarily suggesting this is the best route to take, but it might be a useful thought experiment. Might as well learn from the mistakes Google's already made, right?

-CC

Ben Francis

unread,
Jul 12, 2011, 2:59:28 AM7/12/11
to web...@googlegroups.com
On Sat, Jul 9, 2011 at 9:51 AM, Captain Calliope <lyre.c...@gmail.com> wrote:

I just realized it might be useful to look at the Chromium OS documentation for some inspiration.

I definitely agree we should aim to learn from and co-exist with Chrome OS and the Chromium OS project, but forking it isn't necessarily the best approach.

I've found the Chromium codebase quite difficult to get into so I'm not exactly sure but I suspect there's quite a lot of Chromebook specific code in there which makes Chrome OS difficult to modify and run on commodity hardware? Chrome OS consists of both a software and hardware specification but Webian should hopefully run on as much off-the-shelf hardware as possible, or at least initially target a selection of off-the-shelf devices rather than require custom hardware.

Also, maybe there are even things we can do better than Chrome OS (and not just the UI). I'm quite interested in dropping X as a dependency for example, but that may be a long term aim.

I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has experience of the Chromium codebase and can share some insights on its architecture.

Ben 



--
Ben Francis
http://tola.me.uk

Ben Francis

unread,
Jul 13, 2011, 2:47:06 AM7/13/11
to web...@googlegroups.com
I've been reading some of the Chromium OS docs to see what we can learn.

The Chromium OS Software Architecture design document indicates that the key innovative features are fast boot, verified boot and system recovery but these exist at the firmware level and therefore require custom hardware. 

I'd really like Webian to be bootable on commodity hardware, at least targeting a few key off-the-shelf devices, so custom firmware probably isn't an option. This approach would probably mean compromising on boot time in order to support a wider range of hardware. The Chromium OS FAQ says that these features aren't actually part of Chromium OS anyway, only the proprietary branded Chrome OS.

Chromium OS also has a custom window manager which does some clever things with off-screen pixmaps which allows for some neat effects when rendered with OpenGL. Perhaps the window manager is re-usable, although I'm interested in exploring the idea of dropping X as a dependency in the future.

Other than that as far as I can tell Chromium OS largely consists of standard components common to other Linux distros. I like the idea of using D-bus to interact with hardware devices.

The Directory Structure page gives an insight into the structure of the Chromium OS codebase, but I think it would take considerable time to really get into this huge codebase and understand how it works.

I haven't built Chromium OS yet, has anyone else done so? Does anyone else have any other insights into Chromium OS and lessons we should learn?

Ben

Alex

unread,
Jul 13, 2011, 8:02:31 AM7/13/11
to web...@googlegroups.com
I've built chromium os (cros) several times before.
The main problem for me was poor hardware compatibility especially for connectivity hardware, such as wifi cards, ethernet cards and 3g dongle. 
Tried to run cros on several machines (netbook, notebook, desktop) but every time there were hardware that was not working out of the box.

If you want to try cros, you can download latest image here: http://chromeos.hexxeh.net/vanilla.php
Also, there are versions for vmware player and virtualbox.

Ben Francis

unread,
Jul 18, 2011, 2:08:28 AM7/18/11
to web...@googlegroups.com
Thanks, I did this and got Chromium OS running using VirtualBox. I was a little underwhelmed by it but I think we can learn a lot from how it's put together.

Sam has been building it from scratch to see what's inside!

Ben
Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages